Brazil's Neymar, left and Thiago Silva talk to other players during Brazil's official training on the eve of the group E match between Brazil and Switzerland at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Saturday, June 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

World Cup city Rostov star-struck by yellow-clad Brazilians

June 17, 2018 - 12:01 pm
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ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia (AP) — With Brazil in town, Rostov has turned yellow.

The five-time World Cup champions have their opening match in the Russian city, and the local residents have joined the foreign visitors in donning yellow in honor of the team's shirts.

Misha and Dima, 13-year-old friends who live across the Don River in a run-down neighborhood facing the Rostov Arena, seem certain that Neymar will score in the match against Switzerland. The boys come from an area of the city gutted by a fire last summer. Some traditional wooden houses and wild cherry trees were spared.

As Brazil fans trickled into the city, normally reserved Rostovites joined street parties that sprang up. Cossacks in full uniform posed with supporters for photos, while children wore anything yellow they could find.

Residents wrote welcome messages in chalk on the streets leading to the fan zone and army conscripts manning security posts around the 45,000-seat stadium called out the names of their favorite players in heavy accents: "Neymar!" ''Marcela!" they shouted, referring to Brazil captain Marcelo.

Brazilian fan Pedro Schmidt said he appreciated the local support.

"I find the country very welcoming to us and we hope this can be a great match for us," he said. "(We need) a beautiful win to kick off our presence in this World Cup."

Local resident Natalya Stobokavna, wearing a Russian flag around her shoulders, said she traveled to the center of the city to get a first-hand look at the rare foreign visitors.

"We're so happy that people have come here from around world," she said. "It's such a great atmosphere. This is a great day."

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